Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bucs Bunt Their Way To 9th Inning, 1-0 Win Over Marlins To Even Series

Trevor Richards made the Bucs look lost in the first; Jameson Taillon returned the favor. Cervy got bopped in the second for the Pirates action. The Fish got a single and walk (they can't get JB Shuck out!) around a spiffy play by Red Beard to open, but Jamo worked out of it. The malaise continued in the third; Pittsburgh is hacking (although Jordy hit a ball 395' into a glove) and Richards is sitting at 30 pitches. The Fish got a single and making Jamo work as he's living on the edges and getting neither swings nor strikes from Laz Diaz (who has called a consistent if Twiggy-like strike zone so far). The Pirates slept-walked through the fourth while Miami opened with a walk and a knock. Jameson coaxed three soft rollers (and caught a break when Justin Bour froze at third on a bleeder to Jordy) around an intentional walk to keep it scoreless.

Jamo struggled with a tight zone but never caved (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
To start the fifth, Corey D had a seven-pitch (not one was a strike) at bat before flying out. Cervy finally got a Bucco hit when he smacked a ground rule double to left, but an out and intentional pass later, JT bounced out to put another zero on the board. The Marlins got a two-out single in their half. Pittsburgh had no better luck during its third time through the lineup in the sixth. They didn't get a ball out of the infield and neither did Miami. Three hard-hit balls in the seventh finally resulted in another hit, again by Fran, who had a 3-0 green light with two outs, but a first-pitch pop up quickly doused that flame. Michael Feliz came on and tucked the Fish away. Jamo went six whitewash frames, giving up four hits and four walks (one intentional) with two whiffs after 93 pitches. He struggled some but overcame.

Drew Steckenrider got the ball in the eighth. Fraze worked him for an eight-pitch walk with an out, then was caught stealing on what appeared to be a hit-and-run gone bad. J-Hay K'ed and it was another zippo. In trotted George Kontos. A pair of singles left runners on the corners with two outs, but the dish remained clean thanks to a nice play in the hole by J-Hay. Brad Ziegler got the ninth inning call, and Starling dropped down a one-out bunt single. A J-Bell knock moved Marte to third (Starling may have helped get the ball through with a fake break, getting 2B Starlin Castro swaying) and he came in on what we suppose was a squeeze of some flavor (EDIT - Corey did it on his own). Corey D popped up a bunt, but it found grass between the pitcher and second baseman. working just as well as a liner to right. Just in time, too, as Fran bounced into a DP. Felipe Vazquez climbed the bump. He had a little problem adjusting to Diaz's zone, but none with the Marlins. RTJR!
Starling's wheels may have stolen this game (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Well, they were bound to regress sooner or later; this was a surprising place for it to happen with the baseball weather and shaky pitching of Miami. Still, a win is a win, even if it took two ninth inning bunts to claim it. It sure helped that the boys behind the mound made the plays as they did tonight, unlike Friday's giveaway. On to the rubber match.

Notes:
  • Jamo has now thrown 15 consecutive shutout innings.
  • For all the talk of the Bucco offense, there are three starters hitting under .250 - Marte, .241, Jordy, .227 and Gregory .220. We'll see how sustainable slugging percentage and RISP are down the road; hopefully the pen and leather will step up to help carry the load.
  • Kimera Bartee was back coaching first base tonight for the Pirates. Omar Moreno had filled in for him while Kimera was away after a death in the family.
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